2009-11-06 / Top Stories

Governor Tells Developers, 'Show Me The Money'

Wants $200 Million In Up-Front Money
By Howard Schwach

The bidding to redevelop Aqueduct racetrack into a "racino" has taken an - other twist and turn, one that involves a basketful of money.

Insiders say that Governor David Pater son sent a letter late Friday of last week to the six bidders who want to put the video slot machines in Aque - duct, asking each to provide proof it can pay the state $200 million upfront within 30 days of being selected.

The request would mean a revision of most of the bidders' original plans to revive the rundown racetrack by in - stalling thousands of video slot mach - ines at the site in Ozone Park, Queens.

Up to now, only one of the half dozen bidders — Penn National Gaming — had proposed to pay the state $200 million upfront. Other bidder groups, including one headed by Manhattan's largest landlord, SL Green, and another by casino magnate Steve Wynn, promised $125 million and $100 million upfront, respectively, with more money as the project progressed.

Sources say the latest request — the second change in the rules in less than three months — will likely winnow down the list of potential bidders in the race.

Bidders have until today, November 6, to reply to the letter, sources say.

The bidding process has been relatively closed to the public since the state started accepting proposals in July. But since then, the bidders have willingly shared much of their plans to revive the 210-acre site.

Bidders were allowed to up their bids in August, an opportunity of which several took advantage. And just last month, Paterson mentioned in a speech that there were issues with gaming licenses and the financial soundness of some of the bidders. Pater son, along with Assembly Speak - er Sheldon Silver and the Senate president, selects the winner.

The latest wrinkle suggests the state may be trying to avoid a repeat of last year's experience with the original Aque duct winner, Delaware North. The group, which is currently bidding on the project again, initially won the right to redevelop Aqueduct but backed out late last year.

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